What’s most important when choosing a retirement community?

If you’re starting to think about where you will live as you age, retirement communities are a great option. If you’re in the market for this type of housing, there’s one consideration that we believe is more important than any other, especially if one of your goals is to avoid being forced into a nursing home when your health fails: Choose a retirement community that guarantees that once you’re a resident, it can be your “forever” home. You won’t ever have to leave.

Choose one that offers contractual assurance in writing that once you have moved into the community, you will never be asked to move out, even if your funds are depleted or you need more care due to deteriorating health.

What kind of retirement community can offer this guarantee? Continuing Care Retirement Communities (also known as CCRCs and Life Plan Communities) are the only ones able to offer written assurance that once you move in, you will never have to move again, no matter what happens with your health or your financial situation. Speaking of finances, retirement communities that do not accept Medicaid or a similar program as a source of payment should be crossed off your list because they will not be able to or willing to accommodate changes to your health or finances.

When you’re visiting communities, make sure you ask about this. If the sales rep insists that verbal assurances are enough, hold your ground. Verbal assurances won’t hold up in court. Insist on getting those assurances in writing as part of the contract.

This is a dealbreaker.

If you haven’t yet selected a housing option for your retirement years, you owe it to yourself to think about housing within the context of the rest of your retirement plan. Here’s how to get started.